Over the last two months much of the economic focus has been on the tax reforms planned by President Trump and Republicans in Congress. That plan is very close to becoming reality. In fact, by the time you read this, it may have already been passed by the two houses of Congress and be on the president’s desk awaiting his signature.
Reality — however — says the Census Bureau is that median income is on the rise. And it’s happened without a tax cut. And in 2016 — the last data available — saw the largest jump in a two-year period in decades.
Census Bureau spokeswoman Trudy Renwick said median income is just a tad over $59,000. That’s up 3.2% from 2015 and in 2015 we saw a rise of 5.2%. Things are — indeed — looking good. “This has been two consecutive years of very strong income growth,” she said.
This is good for the middle class which Pew defines as those who earn 67% to 200% of the median income or from somewhere between about $39,560 to around $118,080.
Though median middle-class income dropped and poverty rose in his first term, it started improving in the second. Two million jobs were added last year and the unemployment rate fell to 4.7%. Another factor is more people returning to the employment rolls and moving back into full-time jobs.
Obama administration is getting most of the credit for the increases.
But the Economic Policy Institute — a left leaning group — says the raves are not necessarily justified. It crunched the Census Bureau numbers and said median income is 1.6% below 2007’s level and way down from where it was in 1999.
It’s possibly an unjustified negative. The Census Bureau said a large number of Americans and from various groups benefitted.
• African American families saw average income rise 5.7% to $39,500
• Hispanic households saw a 4.3% jump to $47,675
• Median income of Caucasian families hit $65,000 — a 2% rise
• Asians did not see a statistically significant rise or drop
Also falling in the 2016 numbers is the poverty rate:
• 40.6 million Americans live in poverty
• That’s down 2.5 million from 2015
• The poverty level was 13.5% in 2015
• In 2016 the figure is almost a point lower at 12.7%
Breaking the poverty numbers down a bit more. From 2015 to 2016:
• African Americans in poverty dropped to 22% from 24.1%
• Hispanic poverty fell to 19.4% from 21.4%
• Caucasians in poverty is 8.8% — same as 2015
• Asians in poverty is 10.1% — same as 2015
Here are the median income levels of the PIA Western Alliance States:
Household median income: $76,440
Middle class income range: $51,210 - $152,880
Household median income: $53,538
Middle class income range: $35,880 - $107,120
Household median income: $67,739
Middle class income range: $45,390 - $135,480
Household median income: $51,807
Middle class income range: $34,710 - $103,610
Household median income: $50,027
Middle class income range: $33,520 - $103,619
Household median income: $55,180
Middle class income range: $36,970 - $100,050
Household median income: $46,748
Middle class income range: $31,320 - $93,500
Household median income: $57,532
Middle class income range: $38,550 - $115,060
Household median income: $76,106
Middle class income range: $44,960 - $134,210
Do you want to know if you are middle class or if your income level is higher or lower? Click here to calculate.
Even if you have that magical median income number can you really afford to live in the city of your choice? Good question. It has become increasingly expensive to purchase and rent in the nation’s larger cities which is where most of the jobs are these days.
Many of you rent or have renters as clients. The National Low Income Housing Coalition found those working full-time with a minimum wage income cannot afford to live just about anywhere. The group’s Out of Reach report says the most someone should pay for that expense is 30% of their income. In all but four states those living on the federal minimum wage of $7.95 an hour cannot afford even a “modest” two-bedroom rental.
The report notes at the federal minimum wage — which admittedly is lower than what most states do — the average worker making that income figure would have to work a 117-hour work week and 52 weeks a year to afford that mythical, modest two-bedroom house. Even someone with a spouse, partner or roommate with the same income level might not be able to afford that dwelling the coalition states.
• Arkansas has the lowest hourly income needed at $13.72 — the minimum wage is $8.50
• Hawaii has the highest $35.20 — the minimum wage is $9.25
Here is what it will take in the PIA Western Alliance states to afford a two-bedroom rental home. This is based on a 40-hour work week, 52-weeks a year and to pay that rent without paying more than 30% of income.
• Alaska — $24.16
• Arizona — $17.56
• California — $30.92
• Idaho — $14.65
• Montana — $14.90
• Nevada — $18.01
• New Mexico — $15.78
• Oregon — $19.78
• Washington — $23.84
Source links: WTVR-TV, Business Insider, CNN Money, The Huffington Post